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Heartbreak Jeweler Helps Divorcees Turn Their Blues Into Green

By Mathew Katz | December 21, 2011 11:27am

MIDTOWN — He's the guy to go to when you've had your heart broken — but Josh Opperman won't buy you a drink, commiserate with you or give you advice. He wants to help you sell that giant ring that cost three month's salary.

Opperman runs I Do Now I Don't, a jewelery company that specializes in the buying and selling of rings that are left over amid the wreckage of ruined relationships. According to him, the heartbreak business is good: especially during the holidays.

"A lot of people get engaged during Christmas and New Year's," he said. "But one of the biggest break-up times is actually now, because of a lot of people are re-evaluating their life decisions."

Opperman got into the business after being abandoned by his fiance eight years ago, coming home to find nothing but her expensive engagement ring waiting for him.

An Afghanistan veteran sold this ring on I Do Now I Don't after walking in on his fiance in bed with another man.
An Afghanistan veteran sold this ring on I Do Now I Don't after walking in on his fiance in bed with another man.
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DNAinfo/Mathew Katz

Heartbroken, he tried to recoup what he could: the money he spent on the diamond ring, but he soon discovered that in the world of diamond sales, jewelers mark up rings about two to three times their actual cost.

"I was only getting 30 to 35 percent back of the value," he said. "I couldn't take losing that much money."

Opperman's company tries to get folks who have to sell their rings because of divorces or broken engagements a bigger share of what they originally paid for it — largely by selling to people who want to get a ring for less than they would from a typical jeweler, and don't mind if it has a complicated past.

The site goes a step beyond Craigslist or eBay in terms of safety. Sellers can list their ring online, and when it's sold, both the buyer's money and the ring goes to the I Do, Now I Don't office at 37 W. 47th St. A certified gemologist will check the ring to make sure it's exactly what the seller described, and the buyer's money is held in escrow until then.

"It's impossible on our site to be scammed," Opperman said. "Because of that, we sell very high-end items. People feel comfortable selling items that are $50,000 or $100,000."

If everything checks out, the sale goes through, with sellers usually netting around 60 percent of what they originally paid. Opperman takes a 15 percent commission.

It's a model that's attracted more than just divorceés and heartbroken former fiances. Nowadays, Opperman deals with all kinds of buyers and sellers, but also stands by his original clients.

In the five years that he's been in the love-gone-wrong jewelery business, Opperman said he's come across some amazing stories, from the tragic to the ridiculous. One recent customer was a soldier who had to sell his fiance's engagement ring after coming back early from Afghanistan to find her with another man.

A ring sold using I Do Now I Don't.
A ring sold using I Do Now I Don't.
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DNAinfo/Mathew Katz

Another customer was happily married, but sold her engagement ring to pay for breast implants.

"I guess the breast implants were more important than having an engagement ring," Opperman said with a shrug.

As for his own love life, Opperman himself had to buy an engagement ring once again: he got married three years ago, and he and his wife just had a baby daughter.